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Promoting a Human Right: Freedom of Religion or Belief (FoRB) in the Workplace

Freedom of Religion or Belief is an internationally recognized human right. Article 18 of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights states:

Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance.

However, 36% of Americans report experiencing or witnessing workplace religious discrimination, according to a recent Tanenbaum survey, “What American Workers Really Think about Religion.”

Nearly half of non-Christian workers (49%) report experiencing or witnessing religious non-accomodation at work. White evangelical workers (48%) are equally as likely to report this. And two-in-five (40%) atheists also report experiencing or witnessing religious non-accomodation.

The survey notes that when it comes to addressing religion in the workplace, different religious groups have different needs for accommodation. For instance, a non-Christian may care more about the right to display a religious object or the right to pray during the day, while a Christian will be more concerned about attending service on Sunday.

The survey found that the most commonly experienced or witnessed forms of religious non-accomadation are being required to work on Sabbath observances or religious holidays (24%) and attending company-sponsored events that did not include kosher, halal or vegetarian options (13%).

This affects the bottom line in various ways, including losses in employee morale. For instance, the survey found that morale is higher in companies that provide flexible hours for religious observance.

Workplace religion discrimination also can increase risks of litigation and negative publicity, as the clothing retailer Abercrombie & Fitch recently discovered when it ran afoul of religious accommodation laws in the U.S. They have since changed their policies after paying fines, legal fees and a stream of negative PR.

Make A Difference: Join Below

Corporate Commitment to Freedom of Religion or Belief (FoRB)

WHEREAS freedom of religion or belief is a universally recognized human right, and WHEREAS religious freedom promotes sustainable and innovative business, is good for human flourishing, and results in peaceful and stable societies, THEREFORE [COMPANY] resolves to respect and promote freedom of religion or belief for its employees, in its business and social dealings, and in the world at large. ACCORDINGLY, with the vision of a future of innovative and sustainable economies where religious freedom and diversity are respected, [COMPANY] commits to two basic principles:

1. Ensure that freedom of religion or belief is an integral part of the company’s strategic planning, including:

  • Establish clear corporate/company policies preventing religious discrimination including reasonable accommodation of 
religious clothing, diet, prayers, holy days, etc. and practice nondiscrimination in hiring, management and advancement

  • Promote a religiously inclusive environment where each employee’s beliefs are recognized and valued, and where religion or belief is not a matter of force or coercion

  • Train management and employees on international standards of freedom of religion or belief


2. Publicly support freedom of religion or belief, including:

  • Encourage business partners, supply chains, sub-contractors, etc. to implement policies prohibiting religious discrimination and that advance the message that freedom of religion or belief is good for business

  • As possible, seek new business opportunities that draw on the strengths of religious minorities and that open new markets and avenues for business growth; also actively recruit employees from religious minorities

  • Support local, national and global initiatives that promote freedom of religion or belief


Membership

  • Members commit to the above basic principles

  • All Members will be invited to join the Global Impact Investment Database

  • Members are eligible to receive weekly and monthly updates as well as invitations to participate in special events and briefings organized by the Religious Freedom & Business Foundation

  • Members are authorized to display the FoRB-Friendly Logo on their businesses and company communications

  • Gold, Platinum and Diamond Members will be recognized on the Religious Freedom & Business Sponsors Page

  • Diamond Members are eligible for tickets to special high-level events, including the Global Forums and Global Awards

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